Football

England better placed for Euro success in 2021: Gareth Southgate

England manager Gareth Southgate believes a year-long delay to the European Championship could benefit his side, as key players will be fit and rising stars will mature.

Euro 2020, which was due to begin on Friday, was moved back 12 months because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

England captain Harry Kane and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford would have been major doubts for the initial dates due to injury.

Rashford, 22, was one of four English players named among the top five most highly valued players in the world by the Centre International d'Etude du Sport Football Observatory on Monday.

The others are Raheem Sterling, 25, Trent Alexander-Arnold, 21, and Jadon Sancho, 20.

"At one point, we were possibly looking at being without Rashford and Kane or, at the very best, both of those not having a lot of football," Southgate told Sky Sports.

"The age of the team you would hope would be better in a year, but we have to go and prove that on the pitch."

If the tournament remains in the same format across 12 cities in 12 different countries, England would play all of their group games at Wembley and then the semi-final and final there if they get that far.

HOME ADVANTAGE

Southgate, who has experience of playing in a home tournament at Euro 96, is hoping his side will benefit.

"We have an advantage in our group matches. But so do Italy, who play their games in Rome, Spain play in Bilbao, Holland play in Amsterdam," he said.

"It's only a true advantage in the latter stages of the competition, semi-final, final, if we are good enough to get to that point. But, without doubt, we have to view it positively."

Southgate led England to a first World Cup semi-final for 28 years in 2018 and has been linked with a return to club management at Tottenham Hotspur and United over the past two years.

He admitted that he would need to return to club coaching when his time with the national team is up.

"I am not going to be England manager for 20 years," he said.

"I would like to coach and manage for a reasonable period, I don't know how long exactly...

"When you have been England manager, you are not going to have a more pressurised role.

"Of course I am ambitious but, at the moment, there is nothing in my mind other than making England a success." - AFP

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